By Hamish Girvan
Amazon’s Prime video productions are starting to branch out with their “All or Nothing – A Season with” fly on the wall sports series.
Originally launched with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals they have since gone outside the world of NFL and have followed the Michigan Wolverines College Football team and also have an upcoming series following the English Premier Leagues Manchester City
On Friday saw the launch of one closer to home – All or Nothing: the New Zealand All Blacks. There has been a fair bit of hype around this with the All Blacks saying pre broadcast that they were afraid that secrets would have come out and also the fact that Sky Television are not associated any production of it (however they have bought the rights to screen it later in the year)
The 6 part series follows the All Blacks during 2017’s Lion Test series and also the Rugby Championship in the same season.
The first image is the stitching at the manufacture of an All Black jersey with the naming of the team to face the Lions interweaved. The first name heard is Sonny Bill Williams. OK obviously there are some players more comfortable with this type of concept and to be fair Sonny Bill is very aware of who he is and does things off the field that a number of others would not however here’s where some of the faults start with the series in general.
A supposedly fly on the wall series this has a focus on certain individuals however we learn nothing new about them with the usual shots and interviews at home with family and partners. The closest we get to something more is Lima Sopoaga’s decision to turn down a test start against Argentina to stay at home for the birth of his daughter. Sopoaga’s camera time is pretty raw and he comes across as genuinely humble and also is a natural in front of camera. He will be sorely missed when he leaves New Zealand later in the year based on this. (His kicking technique and percentage is also something that may be missed). Sopoga’s thoughts and views are the sort of thing that viewers of this series want to see.
Narrated by New Zealand film director Taika Watiti the series interspersed with lots of sound bites from Radio and television pundits before and post matches and there is also lot of coverage of each game which is nothing new to what has previously been shown. We see close ups of each Haka – obviously something International audiences will love, however we have all seen Sonny Bills red card and reaction after. (Sonny-Bill refers to the official as “that ref”) Post-match coverage would have been more insightful. What do the All Blacks do once the game is over?
Steve Hansen and his coaching team do not really drop their guard, the closest we get is Hansen and Foster making a decision during training to start Rieko Ioane in the Lions test based on something they see in training. That’s about it. There is no audio of what is said in the coaching box during the games and limited team meeting coverage where is all very much one way. Listening to what the players say in these sessions would have opened up the series more.
The NFL series have coverage of coaching meetings, decisions why and how certain plays are made and actual footage of the discussion when a player is dropped or released. There is none of this in this.
Instead we find out the All Black bus drivers nickname is Grunter, Jerome Kaino is known as the enforcer and that Steve Hansen is not really that apt at home handyman type tasks. His ability to bang a nail into a fence is not great viewing.
Hansen does however portray a coach who can motivate a player or team “If you just want to be an All Black come and see me. I only want great All Blacks” and he calls out players who don’t seem to be aware they need to watch film of upcoming opponents. There could have been a lot more of this
Oh the All Blacks actually all assist with getting their bags off the team bus wherever they are. This is a lot of what is covered and someone looking for more may be disappointed.
“The All Blacks greatest rival is the All Blacks” is a theme that comes through and perhaps this is why we don’t see more.
Some is better the Nothing however we want more All. There will be a lot of appeal though for a lot of All Black fans here and overseas and that’s what the main premise of what the series was made for.
*The All Blacks All or nothing is streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video subscription service now in New Zealand”
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